In a bid to combat the alarming trend of fatal crashes caused by alcohol-impaired drivers on Thanksgiving Eve, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging individuals to refrain from participating in the dangerous practice known as ‘Blackout Wednesday’. According to the agency, a staggering 137 drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2017 and 2021 were found to be under the influence of alcohol during this particular time period. Furthermore, in 2021 alone, 36 drivers were identified as alcohol-impaired in fatal accidents on Thanksgiving Eve, serving as a stark reminder of the severity of the issue.
Ricky Ortiz, a prominent business owner in San Antonio, understands the gravity of the situation and has taken various measures to prioritize the safety of his customers and employees. Ortiz, who operates several establishments including El Camino, Bésame Bar and Food Truck Park, and the soon-to-be-opened Ay Que Chula, acknowledges the allure of the pre-holiday festivities but emphasizes the importance of responsible drinking. He states, “People are with their family. They want to have a good time and want to go out and drink. I know it is one of the worst days for DUI accidents.”
This concern is not unfounded for Ortiz, who tragically lost his brother to a wrong-way driver under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Reflecting on this devastating incident, Ortiz emphasizes the responsibility that business owners hold in protecting their patrons and staff. Ortiz asserts, “I think as an owner of a business, it is important to do your part to protect your customers and employees.”
According to the NHTSA, young drivers in the age range of 21 to 24 accounted for the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes on Thanksgiving Eve between 2017 and 2021. San Antonio Police Officer William Kasberg, a member of the DWI unit for nearly 12 years, attests to the prevalence of such incidents during this time of the year, particularly among college students and families. Kasberg asserts, “Drinking and driving is one of the most avoidable arrests that you can possibly do. It doesn’t discriminate from the lowest income to the most influential person.”
To combat this issue, both Ortiz and Kasberg stress the importance of planning ahead and making responsible decisions. Kasberg urges individuals to prioritize safety, stating, “Make good decisions, the loss of one life is too many.” Ortiz, on the other hand, emphasizes the availability of alternative transportation options, encouraging individuals to use services like Uber if they have the means to purchase a drink. Furthermore, Ortiz even offers free rides to customers who find themselves in need of assistance in getting home safely.
As Thanksgiving approaches, it is crucial for individuals to heed the warnings and take proactive measures to ensure their safety and the safety of others. By refraining from excessive alcohol consumption and making responsible choices, the number of alcohol-impaired accidents on Thanksgiving Eve can be significantly reduced, ultimately preventing unnecessary loss of life.